Students Staff
University of Essex

July 25, 2012

GradFocus3

Filed under: Newsletters — Dee Hardcastle @ 3:20 pm

TOP TIP: stay informed between newsletters through regular updates on our facebook page

We hope you all had a great day for your graduation last week, it was nice to see some of you on square 5. Now more than ever, you may be focusing on your career as a graduate, so keep reading for the latest job opportunities and news, as well as advice and tips to help you show potential employers how good you are.

Job spot

Ever thought about being a Police Officer?

The Metropolitan Police Service has a new Police Officer Graduate Entry Programme. They are looking for commitment, resilience and integrity for entry to the foundation training stage, which can lead to their Graduate Development Programme, with exceptional candidates being selected for their Accelerated Programme.

You need to act fast if you want to apply, only the first 4,000 candidates with at least a 2:1 who pass the telephone screening by 10 August will progress to the next stages, with assessments being undertaken from 1 August. Training would start in March 2013.

See their website to find out more, including how to start applying.  

 Civil Service Fast Stream

Interested in doing a job that means having an impact on life in the UK? The Fast Stream is the talent management programme for graduates who have the potential to become the future leaders of the Civil Service.  It is ranked in the top ten “Times Top 100 Graduate Employers”.   

There are routes open to all degree subjects, and some specialist routes including for economists, statisticians, social research, operational research, HR and technology. There are also opportunities to apply to work in the EU and Northern Ireland. Applications for all Fast Stream schemes open from mid-September 2012 for entry in 2013 so start preparing now by researching opportunities on their website and filling any skills and experience gaps you might have.

Careers Adviser’s top tip

Practice for employer’s selection assessments

Psychometric tests are often used by larger employers as part of their recruitment and selection processes, often after the application stage and before inviting candidates to assessment centres and/or interviews, but sometimes even as the first step. They’re not as scary as they may sound, they’re simply tools devised to assess things like numerical, verbal and logical reasoning, situational judgement and personality. However many candidates fail to progress past this stage of selection due to lack of preparation. Some assessments may be timed and without practicing similar tests in advance, completing them can be very challenging. 

Many students and graduates ask what the best practice tests are, but there’s no easy answer for that. Each employer will design their own tests, often with the advice of Occupational Psychologists, to assess candidate’s suitability depending on their own specific requirements in what they are looking for in new employees. However, just practicing these types of tests in general can help you become familiar with the process and get you thinking in the right way, improving your reaction speeds for answering questions in timed tests. So why not make a start in advance of the new cycle of recruitment for graduate schemes now? The Employability & Careers Centre website has a section dedicated to helping you get to grips with Psychometric Testing, including links to practice tests. Some employers even have their own practice versions of their tests, usually available through their careers pages on their websites.    

What’s new?

Santander funds internship programme for small businesses

Santander has launched a new scheme to support the provision of 500 internships for British small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The bank will provide funding towards basic salaries for the students and graduates who take part.

The small business internship programme will be open to final-year and recently graduated students with the aim of promoting the benefits of working for SMEs, who make up the majority percentage of employers in the UK. It will also provide SMEs with access to valuable graduate talent.

Ana Botín, Santander UK chief executive, explained, ‘We hope our new programme offering 500 student internships to SMEs can help provide our talented graduate community with the opportunity to gain vital experience in the workplace, whilst opening their eyes to the benefits of working for smaller companies. SMEs have not typically attempted to compete with the graduate recruitment schemes of the big FTSE players and we hope that this initiative will give a wider range of companies the benefit of fresh, young talent.’

The internship programme has been set up as the result of the partnership between Santander and sixty British universities and higher education institutions, or which Essex is one. Santander will work with its partner universities to find students/graduates and companies who will benefit from the scheme and will help with placements and administration.

Our internships team should have more information on this soon, so keep an eye on their facebook page for updates.

How to impress at graduate job interviews

In the last newsletter, we guided you through effectively applying for jobs. Getting that right should (hopefully) be your ticket to succeeding the selection process through to interview. It’s pretty much guaranteed you will be asked why you are interested in the employer, so do your research and think about how you will tell them what attracts you to working there. You should also think about how you will talk about your interest in the role, and what makes you suitable for this, including what you believe makes you stand out from the competition.

Could you do the job?

Having focussed on proving you have the skills the employer is seeking at the application stage, you can also use these to help you to prepare for competency interviews. This type of interview examines what you can do. The questions are likely to a little deeper into the skills you provided evidence of in your application. The STAR approach we outlined as a technique for making effective applications is equally useful when preparing for competency interviews, as questions are likely to be phrased with the expectation that you really prove yourself. You may be asked things like:

  • This role would require you to work effectively as part of a team in a busy and challenging environment. Can you tell me about a relevant time when you’ve contributed successfully to a team effort and what the outcome was?
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills are critical for this role. Talk us through a time where you’ve used these skills effectively in the past.
  • Good organisational skills will be key for success in this role. Can you outline an example from your university or other experiences where you’ve demonstrated this skill?

Would you fit in?

In addition to having the skills the employer is looking for, you may also want to give some thought to your strengths and areas of interest. Strengths based interviews are becoming more popular with some organisations, so it is good to be prepared in case this is what you face. Unlike a competency based interview, in a strengths based interview, an employer will expect you to talk about what you like doing, your interests, what you think you are good at. The passion that comes from talking about these things helps to bring out the real you. It’s important to an employer to select not only someone who has what they are looking for, but someone they feel will fit in well and make a difference. Strengths based interviews are more difficult to prepare for as it’s more difficult to anticipate the questions, but it would help to spend some time considering questions such as the following:

  • What are your greatest strengths?
  • What does success mean to you?
  • What are you most proud of? Why?
  • How do you know when you’ve had a good day?
  • What energises you?
  • What things come naturally to you?
  • What gets done first on your ‘to do’ list? What never gets done?
  • When are you happiest?

At the end of the interview, the employer will ask you if you have any questions for them, so you should prepare what you want to ask in advance. The best questions are ones that reinforce your interest in the employer and the role, so resist questions about pay and holidays at this stage! Things you might want to find out more about are the training and development opportunities, what a typical day or week is like in the team or department you’d be joining, or asking questions around anything topical for the employer at the moment by researching their website, their social media pages and the media in general.

Are they right for you?

Finally, remember that the job descriptions and research you are doing on a job or employer should also help you to decide whether or not the job is really for you. It is just as important for the employer to match your requirements as it is for you to match theirs. Don’t force yourself into a role that you are not going to enjoy, you won’t perform to the best of your ability and it will be reflected in the quality of your work. Don’t say things you think the interviewer wants to hear – be honest so that they get to see the real you. Talking about things you are interested in and passionate about is much better than trying to force yourself to be someone you are not. Be honest with yourself about what you are looking for, your strengths and weaknesses and whether or not the job is really for you, you will be much happier in the long run.

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